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When I dread the gym, it’s often because of an energy problem. I’m tired, sore, and I don’t want to put my body through the ringer again. I’ve miscalculated before – either eaten too little and felt my vision blackening in the midst of a cardio-induced frenzy, or too much and experienced the dreaded nausea that makes one more rep sound like a death sentence. Fueling up is a balancing act – one many DTC brands are tackling well. Read on for some of my favorite picks for pre-, mid-, and post-workout.
I first discovered Athletic Greens’ all-in-one nutritional powder hailed by Olympic athletes and fitness gurus alike on Instagram. I started my Athletic Greens regimen with the AG1 system ($79 with subscription), which includes a shaker bottle, premium storage jar, and thirty servings.
AG1 contains 75 vitamins, minerals, and whole-food sourced nutrients in one convenient daily serving, with no sugar, gluten, or artificial additives. With everything I need for my nutrition, I’ve noticed that my energy stays super even throughout the day instead of spiking and lagging. It’s on the pricey side, so I’ll likely use it sparingly.
If you’re looking for a supplement specifically tailored for workout performance (versus overall wellness), BeetElite ($34.95) from HumanN offers a plant-based blend for extended exercise endurance. I love the BeetElite formula for its efficiency and price point, making it the most enduring option for me.
Another contender is Ladder, founded by LeBron James and his longtime trainer Mike Mancias. The pedigree alone is impressive, and Ladder’s ingredients are even more so: every batch is third-party verified NSF Certified for Sport®, which means it’s guaranteed to have 100% label accuracy plus no toxins, heavy metals, or banned substances. Try it for $55.95 for 30 servings.
I’m not great at estimating my hydration levels. On runs, I have to carry a water bottle. The recent advent of hydration multipliers has made my process much more efficient – and much more likely I won’t suffer the consequences later.
My personal favorite is Liquid IV, which I nearly always have on hand. It comes in a large pouch of highly convenient single-serve sticks ($24.47 for a 16-pack) and tastes delicious. (It’s also excellent if you’re anticipating hangovers.)
If all the scientific studies and chemical terms feel overwhelming, Cure Hydration sticks (12 for $18) are just as refreshing, yet boast a simple, easy-to-read list of ingredients. Each packet contains organic coconut water powder, pink himalayan salt, lemon juice powder, and natural sweeteners, plus organic juice powders or extracts depending on the flavor.
Feeling adventurous instead? Some athletes have found success incorporating cannabis into their workouts or recovery – as in the OFFFIELD Enhanced Hydration bundle (12 for $29.99), which incorporates CBD and CBG to access your Endocannaboid system. It doesn’t have THC, so isn’t psychoactive. As TQE Editor John noted, he didn’t feel like it enhanced his athletic performance so much as his mood while enduring it. It’s more of a mind + body boost than a body boost specifically. Runner’s high, anyone? There’s a 30-day money back guarantee in case it ends up not being for you.
Since starting CrossFit, my body’s struggled to adjust to the strain of intensive weight-lifting. My coach recommended I double up on protein, drinking shakes twice a day instead of only post-workout. I’ve used Orgain Plant-Based Protein Powder ($31.99) since college and it’s never let me down.
I recently tested another plant-based system: Kate Hudson’s wellness brand, INBLOOM. The Green Protein powder in Chocolate was yummy, filling, and clean enough to motivate me, boosting my willingness to chug my shake twice a day. You can 100% taste the greens, so be aware of the prominence of its flavor! Get 30 servings for $59.
Better yet, INBLOOM is all-in on their nutritional kits, offering a seemingly infinite array of supplements mixed and matched for your convenience. I probably wouldn’t have picked the Beauty Aura ($45) out for myself had it not been in my Powerhouse Kit ($105), but discovered its marine-collagen formula tasted almost exactly like a Starbucks Refresher — delicious and great for my skin, hair, and nails.
After reading another editor’s review of Gainful, I’m also interested in what a personalized powder ($45 for 14 servings) could do for my gains. Gainful ships a package of pre-workout powder, flavor boosts, and protein powder that’s catered to your body and needs, instead of the one-size-fits-all model embraced by most blends.
Calibrating your nutrition to your new regimen in general can be tough. You’re never more aware of how food is fuel than when you’re in an intensive physical routine after eating poorly.
If you need a full reset, I’d opt for the Kroma Wellness cleanse, chock full of bone broth, supergreens, and (are you serious?!) cookie butter. Color-coded, the clarity and simplicity of this all-inclusive Deluxe 5-Day Reset ($495) makes it easy and mindless to stick to. Better yet, the nutrition and nourishment ensures that you’re genuinely resetting and not starving yourself.
Good fuel is the key to making progress both in a workout and outside of it. Unlock the next level of your fitness journey by ensuring you’re properly powering your body.